The Two Fires Festival will be screening a film by Braidwood anthropologist, ethnographer and film-maker, Natasha Fijn on August 25. Dr Fijn will be presenting the film herself, and will be available for a Q&A session at the film’s conclusion.
The film, Yolngu Homeland, explores how a community in Arnhem Land, Australia, is connected with its ancestor beings, as well as other living creatures in the animal and plant world.
Aboriginal people have lived in Arnhem Land for over 45,000 years. Over time they have developed a deep, spiritual connection with the land. Totemic beings of significance include the saltwater crocodile, crows, dogs, crabs, sea eagles, turtles, and yams. The film follows 'Yolngu time’ where the pace is measured and not run according to the institutional timeframes of wider Australia.
Garrthalala is a strong homeland community, where all ages venture out onto the coast and into the water to find food and engage with the land. Three members of the community offer individual insights into different ways of being on Country.
Natasha Fijn is a researcher at the ANU’s Colleges of Arts and Social Sciences and Asia and the Pacific. As an ethnographer, her role is one of observation. She has a particular interest in cross-cultural perceptions and attitudes towards other animals and the cultural human-animal relationships and concepts of domestication. One of her key field studies has been Mongolia, where she made the film Two seasons: multispecies medicine in Mongolia, for which she was awarded a Fejos Fellowship in 2017. This film explores a unique form of multispecies medical knowledge developed by Mongolian herding communities over generations.
In Yolngu Dreaming, Dr Fijn looks at the “developing intertwined histories” of humans and animals that has developed over an exceptionally long period of engagement. The Yolngu live in north-east Arnhem Land in remote communities where traditional country is remarkably ecologically intact, by comparision with much of coastal Australia.
In making the film, Dr Fijn investigated social, cultural and ecological relationships between individual Yolngu and significant animals such as the crocodile, honey bee, dingo and snake. “Utimately,” she says, “the intention was to provide a greater insight into Yolngu worldview with regard to animals.”
Yolngu Homeland: National Theatre, August 25, 4.00pm-6.30pm. Tickets: $15 (adult), $10 (concession), children free. Supper included in ticket price and there will be a bar. Tickets for sale through the Visitors Information Centre or online at trybooking.com/408531